Rwanda is expected to open its first smartphone producing unit which will enable them to enhance an access to digital services, as said by the officials.
The plan was revealed by the ministry’s officials on 07th February 2019 while appearing before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth to express issues related to ICT observed across the country.
The Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, said, negotiations with Mara Corporation, a Pan-African technology company, to begin the plant are going on and that by April this year it could have started activities in the country although”.
She said that smartphones were necessary ICT tools as there are some digital services that only require smartphones such as access to land services among others.
The minister, however, stressed that there it was essential to make sure the affordability of smartphones whose high cost prevents citizens from gaining from various digital services.
Ingabire continued, “Once the factory starts making smartphones, people will be paying in installments over a period of 24 months. We also have to work with telecommunication companies to persue ways of minimizing prices on internet use, which will uplift ICT penetration and digital services.”
She added that in order to further improve the digital divide, ICT graduates, called “Digital Ambassadors”, have been trained and employed in all sectors in partnership with DOT Rwanda in order to train the population in digital knowledge.
The responsibility and lead provides skills based on solving community problems and social innovations based on technology mobile phones and computer education.
She said that at the sector level, there are ICT based chambers that train citizens on digital knowledge and services provided through the Irembo platform like paying Mutuelle de Santé premiums among over 100 other digital services.
She also stated that, “Each chamber is furnished with computers and internet to help increase digital literacy. We want this to be raised to the cell level.”
Innocent Muhizi, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), said that every year a particular amount is spent on scaling up internet access in public institutions so as to upgrade service delivery.
He said, till date, over 1,000 institutions, among them 266 cells, have been connected to the internet. The number is expected to rise to 2,000 institutions by June this year.
“Although 4G LTE technology covers over 90 per cent of the population, internet access is still down since people need smart devices to access it,” he said.
However, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority recently reported that internet stabbing in the country had reached 47.7 per cent by September 2018.